A newly-published study conducted by the Centre for Ocular Research & Education (CORE) indicates that a novel combination of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids ingested as a dietary supplement significantly improves symptoms in people who suffer from severe dry eye disease. Essential fatty acids are an established therapy, yet this is the first clinical trial to demonstrate the effect of eicosapentaenoic acid, docosahexaenoic acid and γ-linoleic acid in such a population.
Effect of a Novel Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acid Supplement on Dry Eye Disease: A 3-month Randomized Controlled Trial (Ng A, et al) appears in the January 2022 edition (Volume 99, Issue 1) of Optometry and Vision Science, the peer review journal of the American Academy of Optometry.
The prospective, randomized, double-masked parallel group study assessed daily use of a supplement containing omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (1200 mg eicosapentaenoic acid, 300 mg docosahexaenoic acid, 150 mg γ-linoleic acid) or the placebo (coconut and olive oil) for three months. Participants with baseline Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI) scores >52 demonstrated a substantial improvement in symptoms with the treatment at the study’s conclusion, averaging a 20.8 point reduction. That compared to a 7.8 point reduction in the similarly-symptomatic placebo group.
“These study participants were far more symptomatic than other published trials involving omega-3 supplementation, allowing for additional analysis,” says Alison Ng, PhD, MCOptom, FAAO, CORE clinical scientist and the paper’s first author. “The Tear Film and Ocular Surface Society Dry Eye Workshop II (TFOS DEWS II) report recommended dietary supplementation with omega-3 as the first stage of management for dry eye disease. Our findings suggest that even the most severe sufferers can benefit from a meaningful improvement in symptoms with omega-3 and -6 supplementation.”
Approximately one in eleven people experience dry eye disease. Its prevalence is on the rise, owing to lifestyle changes including increased use of digital screens. Besides the impact on their daily activities, patients with dry eye disease may further experience changes to their vision and quality of life.
The paper’s authors recommend that future studies examine the effects of early dietary supplementation with omega-3 and -6 fatty acids in patients presenting with mild-to-moderate dry eye disease to understand potential benefits. They also advise that further research among highly symptomatic participants is warranted.
The study was supported by Nature’s Way of Canada.